Commitment Over Technique
A dependable revenue stream that grows—ah, paradise!
Have a fundraising challenge you want to crack? Weary of doing the same old, same old yet hoping for different outcomes? Do you want the over-the-top results that come from superior strategy?
Email me with your particular problem and I’ll arrange a quick consultation, offering you a practical solution you can implement. I may even use your situation to share with my readers. Names are changed, of course!
Anyone who knows me knows a constant mantra of mine is “principles over process.” If fundraisers get that one piece, they save themselves much frustration, many disappointments, and many, many headaches.
The second mantra that I’ve often heard repeated is similar. It’s “commitment over technique.”
Recently, I spoke with an executive director, development officer and board member of a small social service charity. It was a conference bridge so everyone got to join in. They had reached out through this column to discuss how to move beyond stagnation in their fundraising results. Boy, was it revealing.
What struck me was their preoccupation with perfection in the small niceties—their preoccupation with fine-tuning the status quo. They saw every real or perceived failure of their past efforts as the result of a lack of perfection in technique or someone dropping the ball. Recriminations abounded. They were absolutely obsessed with tweaking what they were already doing.
Doing things well does matter. Getting the details right does make a difference.
But… Making a commitment to be effective in fundraising is so much more important than polishing your technique or clinging to an established effort.
Making a commitment means doing whatever it takes. It means re-evaluating everything—all the time. It means change. It means risk. It means fear. It means the real possibility of failure.
It means not hiding behind ridiculous statements, such as “we’ve always done it that way,” or “we’re different here.” I’m amazed how responsible adults can actually say these sorts of things straight-faced and assume they will be taken seriously.
Principle 8 of The Eight Principles™: Invest, integrate and evaluate™. This is the principle of commitment. Commitment comes when you’re ready to put in time and money. It comes when you’re ready to tear down barriers to change. It comes when you’re ready to put everything you do under the cold hard stare of honest review.
When you’re doing these things, you can be sure that you’re committed. Getting the technique right will hardly even register on the scale of notice. That’s because it will already be right.
It is so much easier to throw up our hands and say, “We don’t have the bandwidth” than to really care. When we really care, we’ve put ourselves—and our reputations—out there. That’s as it should be.
So, what happens when commitment to succeed is really present? Even the most modest resources are parlayed into high returns. The programs and efforts that aren’t generating what you need are jettisoned. Yes, that means the time-honored cotillion that you’ve held since prohibition.
Time to change your clothes. Learn a new skill.
Are you ready for commitment? You might as well say, are you really ready to raise money? Good.
A committed person with little or nothing has always outperformed the half-hearted—so much more than the person clinging to technique. Ask Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or Gandhi.
The end of the story for our well-meaning leadership team? After a little shock treatment, the fog began to clear. New ideas emerged. Recriminations faded.
The leadership group realized that they had a lot more opportunities than they ever thought. There were even more talents and resources among the faithful than they thought.
I’ve pledged to reconnect with them in a couple of months. I’m looking forward to hearing good news.
Let me hear from you. Please share your situation and the challenges you face in developing sustainable revenue streams. Email me, and I’ll arrange a brief consult providing you with practical guidance. I’ll choose some of these thorny obstacles to share, along with my insights, in upcoming columns.
Success is waiting. Go out and achieve it.
Larry believes in the power of relationships and the power of philanthropy to create a better place and transform lives.
Larry is the founder of The Eight Principles. His mission is to give nonprofits and philanthropists alike the opportunity to achieve their shared visions. With more than 25 years of experience in charitable fundraising and philanthropy, Larry knows that financial sustainability and scalability is possible for any nonprofit organization or charitable cause and is dependent on neither size nor resources but instead with the commitment to create a shared vision.
Larry is the author of the award-wining book, "The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising." He is the Association of Fundraising Professionals' 2010 Outstanding Development Executive and has ranked in the Top 15 Fundraising Consultants in the United States by the Wall Street Business Network.
Larry is the creator of the revolutionary online fundraising training platform, The Oracle League.
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